Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Policy – A Manufactured Crisis
By Joanna Williams
Today over 2000 migrant children have been separated from their parents and sent to foster homes, camps and housed in cages. Outrage over the separation policy has been building for months – on June 30th hundreds of thousands of Americans protested in over 700 marches across the US.
How did we get here?
– In March 2017, just weeks after Trump’s inauguration, administration officials began talking about separating families at the border as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
– Then in April 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “Zero Tolerance” policy calling for prosecution of ALL individuals who enter the US illegally, which ESSENTIALLY ENSURES the separation of parents and children since minors cannot be kept in criminal detention facilities. Many of the families apprehended at the border come from Central America fleeing gang violence, domestic abuse and poverty and are attempting to seek asylum – which is not illegal.
Truth or Lies? Trump has said his administration is simply “following laws that were given to us and forced upon us by the Democrats”. Clearly untrue: there is no immigration law requiring family separation and Democrats, in the in the minority in Congress, did not “force“ Trump to mandate family separation. Referring immigrants for prosecution is not a new policy, but under previous administrations families were detained together, sent back immediately or paroled into the country. Further proof that no law was involved in the Zero Tolerance Policy is the fact that Trump reversed it with an executive order on June 20th.
What is the effect on the children separated from their families?
Colleen Kraft, M.D., the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, explained the damage to children that can be caused by the Zero Tolerance policy. “Separating children when they are really young can do irreparable harm and create what is known as toxic stress.”
“Young children have this stress response, which increases their cortisol and their fight-or-flight hormones in response to fear. When these children are exposed to scary things like traveling from their home countries to the U.S. or being separated from their parents, they remain with those chemicals high in their system. And they have no adult to buffer their stress, so they remain on red alert all the time.” This, she added, can cause long-term damage, including developmental delays in speech and the ability to develop social bonds. If it continues, it can be a lifelong problem.
Reuniting the families – where are we now?
On June 27th a federal judge ordered the government to reunite children and parents:
In 14 days for children under 5
In 30 days for children 5 and over
As of this writing, more than 2000 migrant children still remain in government custody after being separated from their parents at the border, more than a week after a court ordered the Trump administration to reunite families.
The Trump administration is currently in the process of reuniting families, in part by using DNA tests to confirm whether they are related. But the government has yet to return children to their parents in immigration custody which means the families split up are only being reunited if the parent agrees to deportation (giving up all rights to an asylum claim) or if the child was released to another relative in the U.S.
This is a Manufactured Crisis, doing exactly what it was meant to do: Create utter and complete chaos with no thought of the harm to children and families.